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Some fans grill Woodbury, but teammates know his value

[ 0 ] January 11, 2014 |
Adam Woodbury is averaging 5.9 points and 4.1 rebounds a game. (Press-Citizen file photo)

Adam Woodbury is averaging 5.9 points and 4.1 rebounds a game. (Press-Citizen file photo)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Adam Woodbury has been crushed on Internet message boards before, during and after Iowa basketball games.

But if you think the Hawkeyes’ 7-foot-1 sophomore center is troubled by his critics, think again.

“I could care less what people say,” said Woodbury, who will start his 55th consecutive game at 12:30p.m. Sunday when No.20 Iowa visits No.3 Ohio State in a nationally televised Big Ten game at Value City Arena. “They’ve got their own opinions, but I don’t play for them. I play for my team, my family, myself.

“I’m looking to get better every day. If that’s not what they want to see, I’m sorry for them.”

Sunday’s game, like potential, is a hard thing to grasp. The Hawkeyes’ three losses this season have come to teams ranked fourth, eighth and ninth in the latest Associated Press poll — at Wisconsin (75-71), at Iowa State (85-82) and Villanova at a neutral site (88-83, overtime). Iowa had double-figure leads in all three games.

The loss to the Badgers a week ago and Thursday’s breeze past Northwestern leaves the Hawkeyes 13-3 overall and 2-1 in the Big Ten.

“I thought we played well in the Wisconsin game at times,” Woodbury said. “We looked like the better team at some points in that game. But we let it slip through our fingers.”

Ohio State, 15-1 overall and 2-1 in the Big Ten, is coming off its only loss. The Buckeyes forced overtime Tuesday at Michigan State with a 20-3 run at the end of regulation before losing 72-68.

Expectations for Woodbury have been 7-feet tall since he picked the Hawkeyes over North Carolina as a senior at Sioux City East High School. His numbers — 5.9 points and 4.1 rebounds a game — don’t scream home run.

“I might not always look good on the floor,” Woodbury said. “I might not always have the exciting highlights that everyone wants to see. But I’m trying to get better. Hopefully, people can see that.”

Iowa junior forward Aaron White has heard, and read, negative things about Woodbury since they’ve been teammates.

“To be honest, it really bothers me,” White said. “A lot of guys get on him — not our guys — but the fans. You see a lot of people hating on him. There’s a lot to the game of basketball that you don’t see on a stat sheet. Just because he’s not scoring 10 to 12 points a game, and grabbing 10 to 12 rebounds, doesn’t mean he’s not impacting our team. He’s such an anchor defensively. He’s the most vocal guy on the team when it comes to defense, whether it’s zone or man-to-man.”

Kirk Speraw, who returns to Iowa’s top assistant role with Fran McCaffery returning from a one-game suspension for his outburst at Wisconsin, also puts defense No.1 on his list of what Woodbury brings to the team.

“I think that’s the thing that people maybe don’t appreciate as much about Adam is that he’s a terrific defender,” Speraw said. “He takes great pride in it, not only individually, but his team defense is outstanding for us. And he does a great job of getting his teammates open offensively and setting screens. He’s one of the better 7-footers in the country as far as running the floor and getting out and showing hard on ball screens and recovering back, and he moves his feet exceptionally well.”

Against Northwestern, Woodbury beat everyone down the floor, caught Mike Gesell’s pass in full stride and scored.

“Film after film, when we break down other teams, one of our keys is to run their bigs because they don’t get up and down the floor,” White said. “That’s not a key for the other team against us. They’re not saying, ‘Woodbury is gassed’ late in the first half or the second half. He’s in great shape. I love playing with him. And he’s a guy I love having on our team.”

Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball

About Rick Brown: Rick Brown covers men's basketball for The Des Moines Register and Hawk Central. He's married and the father of two. He also covers golf for the Register. View author profile.

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